Mornings can be the most stressful part of the day when you need to get everyone out the door on time to head to school and work. Do your mornings consist of last minute rushing around, lost school papers, tired, cranky kids and an even crankier mom? If so, try these 5 tips to help you tame the chaos of weekday mornings so your family can start off your days with less stress.
Tip #1: Plan and Prepare
The number one most important thing you can do to make the morning run smoothly is to spend a little time each evening preparing for the next day. Take time to ask your kids for any papers that need to be signed and returned to school and check for important school event dates. Keep a family calendar where everyone can see it and add events, activities, & appointments and check the calendar each evening for the next day so everyone knows what to expect. Post it where you and your family can see it and encourage everyone to add activities and important dates as needed.
Also, make sure kids are going to bed early enough to get a good night’s rest so they are easier to wake up in the morning. That also goes for you, Mom – if you don’t get enough rest, it will be much harder to get going the next day. Yes, I know sometimes the only quiet time you get are those precious minutes or hours after the kids are tucked into bed, but if you are in the habit of staying up way too late, you are chronically sleep-deprived and busy mornings are much harder to deal with when we are exhausted.
Tip #2: Prepare for Lunch the Night Before
You can also save time by packing lunchboxes the night before. If it needs to be kept cold, put it in the refrigerator. Packing a lunch the night before allows more time for kids to choose what they want to take and for parents to make a healthier lunch than pre-packaged boxed lunches. If they are eating the school lunches, check the lunch menu frequently so there are no last minute requests to take a lunch when they don’t like what the school is serving.
Kids can do many things themselves to help tame the morning chaos if they have a morning routine to follow.
Tip #3: Post a Routine for the Family to Follow
First, post a routine of all the steps each kids needs to do to get ready for school. For kids too young to read, you can use pictures. Knowing what is expected and in what order helps kids to learn to take responsibility for getting themselves ready in the mornings and means much less reminding and nagging on your part. Using a timer can help kids who tend to dawdle. Make getting ready in the morning fun by having the kids race to see who can beat the timer getting dressed or getting to the breakfast table.
Tip #4: Choose Outfits the Night Before
Each night have your kids pick out their outfits for the next day, including underwear, socks and shoes. Put these all together and ready to go for morning. Lay them out on a chair or put them all together on one hanger for each child using a plastic baggie to hold underwear and socks. If they have dresser drawers instead, you could fold and stack outfits together instead of separating shirts, pants, etc. Laying out clothes the night before eliminates last minute panic attacks over missing socks or shoes the next morning.
Moms, you could also choose an outfit the night before to make it easy to get dressed and ready for your day. If I have a meeting, TV interview, lunch date, or other reason for leaving the house, it helps to decide ahead of time on an outfit, shoes, and accessories so I’m not rushing as much the next morning.
Tip #5: Create Launch Pads
Finally, have your kids create a “launch pad” where each night they can put everything they need for school in one place and ready to go out the door the next morning. If possible, have it near the door you will leave out of each morning. For example, my son, who is a senior this year, has had his own launch pad all through high school. His backpack, wallet, car keys, and any other necessities are placed together in one area every day when he returns home from school and he checks the night before to make sure everything is ready for him to grab on the way out the door the next morning. This has prevented frantic searches for books, homework papers, car keys, etc. and makes his mornings run more smoothly.
Launch pads aren’t just for kids, either. Mom and Dad should each have a launch pad with necessary items for walking out the door to go to work or elsewhere. Putting your purse, keys, and anything else you might need in the same place every day makes it so easy to grab and go that you won’t have to stress over missing anything on the way out the door.
These tips might not make you jump for joy out of bed every morning, unless maybe you are already a morning person, but implementing them can help make mornings less dreadful, stressful, and chaotic. Not being a morning person myself, I’m all for making mornings as stress-free and easy as I possibly can and I hope these help your family do just that!